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The first direct image of a jet produced by the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy M87

M87* is the supermassive black hole at the heart of the giant galaxy M87 that provided the first image of the shadow of the event horizon of these merged stars. Today, an array of radio telescopes including those of ALMA, ESO, are revealing in a single image not only the same black hole, but also the birth of jets of matter from a ring of matter around M87*. This is enough to better understand the jets of other black holes.

Already in April 2019, galaxygalaxy Messier 87 (Messier 87Messier 87), huge oval galaxyoval galaxy It is located about 55 millionlight yearslight years It made headlines in the field of radio astronomy. Actually, it is Astronomy scientistsAstronomy scientists He studied it for centuries in the visible and in the constellation Virgo, after discovering it before Charles MessierCharles Messier in 1781. He later realized that in addition to containing 10 times morestarsstars that milky waymilky wayas it contained in her heart a Giant black holeGiant black hole Which was an excellent target to be able to observe a shadowevent horizonevent horizon from the black hole.

For this, it was necessary to marshal notes from several radio telescopesradio telescopes On the surface and implement the technique Editorial summaryEditorial summary. It makes it possible to have a radio telescope approximately the size of Earth by combining the observations of these instruments and thus being able to produce images using AccuracyAccuracy register.

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Roger Blandford tells us about supermassive black holes and their jets in this video. For a more or less accurate French translation, click on the white rectangle at the bottom right. The English translation should then appear. Then click the nut to the right of the rectangle, then click Subtitles and finally Subtitle Automatically. Choose “French”. © Quanta Magazine

Additional notes from EHT

This is what the members of the cooperation succeeded in doing Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), thus revealing, in 2019, the first image of a black hole. Today, as indicated in a press release from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) accompanying a publication in natureOn the same image, we observed for the first time the shadow of the black hole at the center of M87) and the powerful jet of particles ThemeTheme almost The speed of lightThe speed of light who is expelled.

The press release also specifies that it is the result of a long-term process of processing the signals collected as it began with observations made in 2018 with telescopestelescopes the VLBI Universal Millimeter Set (GMVA), fromAtacama large millimeter/subgroup (alma) f Greenland Telescope (GLT).

This jet has been known for a long time since it was noticed by the American astronomer Heber Dost Curtis as early as 1918. But it was only later that we realized that this delicate, parallel jet of matter extending at least 5,000 light-years later, is the result of physical processes complex related to the magnetic hydrodynamics of plasmas spacetimespacetime curve, in this case it is from Kerr black holeKerr black hole In rotation contains approximately 6.5 billion massesmasses Solar energy, as Futura explained at some length in a previous article.

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Laboratory for understanding the astrophysics of galactic black holes

The challenge with the new analyzes of the observations is broader than the case of M87 because many similar jets are known and we know they must be related to interactions between supermassive black holes and the galaxies they harbor.

We know that jets shoot out from the region around black holes, but we haven’t fully understood how this happens. To study it directly, we must observe the origin of the jet as close as possible to the black hole. explains in a statement by ESO Ru-Sen Lu, of the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, in China.

Previous observations provided separate images of the region near the black hole and the jet, but ” This new image complements the picture by showing the region around the black hole and the jet at the same time adds his colleague Jae-Yong Kim of Kyungbuk National University in South Korea and the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany.

Summary of Discovery with Alma. For a more or less accurate French translation, click on the white rectangle at the bottom right. The English translation should then appear. Then click the nut to the right of the rectangle, then click Subtitles and finally Subtitle Automatically. Choose “French”. © European Southern Observatory (ESO)

We’re still in the same press release, we learned that the resolution gains we’re still getting in the case of M87 come from the fact that researchers with used radio telescopes took advantage of the waves radioradio Longer wavelength than EHT: 3.5mm instead of 1.3mm. As Thomas Kirchbaum of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy explains, ” At this wavelength, we can see how the jet emerges from the emission ring around the central supermassive black hole The size of the observed ring is about 50% larger than that of an imageEvent Horizon Telescope.

To understand the physical origin of this larger, thicker ring, we had to use it Computer simulationComputer simulation To test different scenarios Keiichi Asada addsAcademia Sinica in Taiwan.

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Eventually, the image will fully show some material falling toward the supermassive black hole’s event horizon.